21st October 2016 – Nuclear Blast Entertainment
02. Family Song
03. The Irony Of Man
04. True Colour
05. Precious Swan
The name Pelander might not be instantly recognisable to most, but his voice most certainly is. Known to many as the vocalist of Swedish doom legends Witchcraft, Magnus Pelander has one of the most unabashedly striking voices out there right now. His debut solo effort Time is everything that Witchcraft is not, whilst still maintaining that solid vocal mastery.
Solo albums are fraught with uncertainty upon their announcement. Are they to be a passion project that simply wouldn’t work in the frame of their main bands? Self-absorbed playgrounds for egos to run free due to a lack of intermediaries? Sometimes it’s a mixture of the two, but Time is distinctly the former; the material wouldn’t really be out of place as Witchcraft output, but whilst that is true it’s also a left field step into 70s folk prog, not too dissimilar to the recent output by fellow Swedes Opeth.
This really is a one man project at its most honest; whilst there is other instrumentation, for the most part it’s acoustic guitar and vocals only. Opening track “Umbrella” conveys a sense of rawness that slowly unveils across the whole album. Flutes and guitars carry Pelander’s memorable vocal with what is an almost paganistic openness, and it feels fresh; sure of itself, but distinctly magical.
“Family Song” and “The Irony of Man” show an emotional rawness to the vocals whilst the instrumentals take a step back the strings are palpably piercing this overtly sensitive composition. These songs feel personal and stark, but vast and relatable. The latter sees the inclusion of some female backing vocals that aid in the delivery of the emotional weight.
The album really comes into its own with “Precious Swan“, an almost ten-minute epic that genuinely does feel like a decidedly more progressive Witchcraft. The track begins much as the others do, with vocals and acoustic guitars continuing to dance together – but as strings and drums flow into the mix so does a mournful electric guitar, paired with electronic swells that elevate the vibe. This swell ebbs and flows into piano melodies that add an almost suspenseful element, with accompanying strings following the progressions until the discordant tension that is built shatters back to the foundations, Pelander’s vocal feels lost and delicate as the song reaches its conclusion.
Time finds itself rounded out by the title track. “I wonder why, my will was torn in two. I’d rather die than be an enemy with time.” croons Pelander. A deeply self-searching piece, it sees more experimentation with traditional drums echoing the ever-passing time. This battle-worn anthem is both reflective and knowledgeable, and as the final words ring out “I don’t want to live here, my enemy is time” you feel a sense of completeness, a story complete.A brilliantly well executed finale to the record.
So, solo albums aren’t all bad. In fact, Time proves they can be rewarding experiences that feel like therapy, and for Pelander, a more personal insight into his mind for his fans. The raw edge to this album is charming and in many ways refreshing to the usual approach by so many bands. The vintage, sound combined with the well-structured instrumentation and powerfully emotional vocals, combine for a rewarding listen. This probably won’t be one of the most popular releases of 2016 but it’s certainly one of the best.